Do we really understand freedom?
Let’s put aside the cliches, platitudes, and euphemisms.
Let’s ask some real questions.
Let’s be honest with ourselves.
Are you free?
I believe that our traditional linguistic understanding of freedom – as we commonly understand it – is flawed.
What does it mean to be free?
Surely we can’t mean that freedom consists of being unbound from all restrictions. Any second glance shows us that we are limited in so many ways that to claim complete liberty would be foolish. We are not free to take a trip to the center of the sun, to be 1,000 feet tall, or to be omniscient.
Isn’t it just a matter of degrees?
Perhaps even though we’re not free to do anything we surely do have particular areas of free will where we can make choices that lead to different outcomes. In this way we are free to choose. Maybe this weaker form of freedom, one in which we can select from a buffet of uncertain options, is more appropriate than an unlimited form. Perhaps it will suffice.
But what determines our choices?
If we are making a free will choice, then there must be factors that contribute to the choice that we make. Even if we decide to flip a coin to make a decision we’ve previously decided to choose our outcome based on chance. Nothing is truly random, and we wouldn’t call ourselves free if all of our decisions were determined by randomness.
Can’t we just avoid the whole philosophy thing?
Breakthroughs often begin when we begin questioning the exact nature of core principles and concepts – like freedom – that we have allowed the linguistics of culture and society to define for us. After a few questions we should agree that we need to be more precise in order to understand what freedom is. Surely it is important enough to justify the effort.
It seems that when we use the term freedom we take it to mean being able to do what we want. That all seems well and good until we realize that what we are not necessarily free to determine what we want. A dilemma arises when we consider this regress of supposedly free choices. We certainly didn’t choose to be born.
So we have free will but we’re not truly free the way we usually mean it?
Sounds like we’re getting closer to the point where this becomes a worldview issue and those with different metaphysical understandings of the major questions about life will necessarily differ on conclusions. I do believe that we have arrived at another classic Amateur Society fulcrum, but before I address the particulars I’d like to offer some general thoughts.
None of us is fully free. We will be a servant for our entire lives. Even if we kick and scream that there is nothing constraining us we can end up serving out own desires. You serve whatever your top priority is. Your ‘ultimate’ is your master. Some serve money. Some serve fame. Some serve alcohol. Some serve tobacco. Some serve sex. Some serve drugs. Some serve entertainment. Some serve companionship. Some serve family. Some serve their emotions. Some serve religion. Some serve their pets. Some serve video games. People will serve just about anything…
To my Christian brothers and sisters: we must serve God. Making anything or anyone else our ultimate, our top priority, is idolatry. Our God deserves our obedience. If you have received Jesus then you know that He died to redeem you and that His name is above all names. You have experienced a love that nothing in this universe can match. God is perfect necessarily and completely. He created you. He didn’t make a mistake. He loves you. He knows what is best for you. He knows what you need to be eternally satisfied. Without Him we are stuck in an endless loop of trying to satisfy ourselves in our own strength and failing.
Sadly, much of this failure arises from a desire to be free, to be unshackled, to be unbound, to do our own thing. Those who have lived long enough to grow wise know instinctively that we don’t know what is best for ourselves.
Here we finally arrive at the freedom paradox: true freedom can be found only by loving and serving God – the perfect master – with every fiber of our being.
This principle is lunacy to a secular society that views serving God as abject slavery. To followers of Jesus it is the power of God. When we are obeying God’s will for our lives we don’t have to fear the consequences. The only decisions we make are the decisions to trust God and to obey. We are free from doubt. We are free to trust. We are free to love. We are free from sin. We are free from ourselves. We are free from death. We are free to give thanks. We are free to worship. We are free to forgive.
We are finally free to live the way we were always supposed to.
If you recognize that you need this true freedom, then you are not alone. We all have an intrinsic yearning for a relationship with God. It is what we were born for. Many sadly try to complete themselves with a myriad of other ultimates, but only God will suffice. If you want to be born again and to be truly free, then accept Jesus Christ into your heart. Believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God, His death, burial, and resurrection.
If you have questions about the salvation that Jesus offers to you regardless of your current situation or if you need prayer, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org